Matt Frevola looks to make most of unlikely opportunity in UFC debut Sunday in St. Louis
His fight over, his fate yet to be decided, Huntington’s Matt Frevola waited in a small room inside a big warehouse in the middle of a desert.
A UFC official walked in and called out a name. Not his.
“OK, I’ve seen them give out two contracts before,” Frevola recalled thinking when he heard Allen Crowder’s name.
Shortly thereafter, a second name was read aloud: Lauren Mueller.
Two people just had achieved their next major professional MMA goal: make it to the UFC. They had won their fights on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in Las Vegas and impressed the UFC president enough to earn a contract with the leading promotion in the sport.
Perhaps Frevola’s slick submission of a previously undefeated Jose “Luke” Flores wasn’t enough to catch the attention of White.
“I’ve never seen them give out three contracts,” Frevola, 27, said.
On this August night, that changed. He was the third and final name called. A UFC contract was his for the signing.
“It was surreal,” Frevola said. “Everything I’ve worked for.”
Frevola will make his UFC debut Sunday when he faces Marco Polo Reyes at UFC Fight Night in St. Louis. Frevola’s bout will air on the FS1 prelims beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. Jeremy Stephens and Dooho Choi headline the main card on FS1. Uriah Hall, from Queens, faces Vitor Belfort in the co-main event.
Frevola began training jiujitsu at Matt Serra’s academy when he was in high school. He left for college, where he was in the ROTC program at the University of Tampa. There, he trained at Gracie Tampa South under Matt Arroyo, who was on Serra’s team in Season 6 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2007.
Frevola (6-0) stayed in Tampa after college for a few years. In 2017, things aligned for the lieutenant in the Army reserves to return home to Long Island.
Recovered from ankle and hand injuries, Frevola was about to sign to fight in Ring of Combat last summer when the call came to be a part of UFC’s new show.
“I was printing out the contract when my manager called,” Frevola said.
Ring of Combat is a top regional promotion based in New Jersey and run by Long Island’s Lou Neglia. But an up-and-coming fighter hardly can turn down a call from the UFC, whether it’s for “The Ultimate Fighter” or a short-notice fight or a new venture on UFC’s streaming service Fight Pass.
Frevola said he had about four weeks to get ready to face Flores.
The “Steamrolla” had more time to prepare for Sunday’s fight against Reyes (7-5, 3-1 UFC). Regardless of prep time, Frevola remains confident.
“I could finish this fight where I choose to take it,” Frevola said. “On my feet, I’ll hurt him and finish him. Or whenever I see a takedown, I’ll plant him on his head and finish him on the ground. That’s how I fight and it hasn’t done me wrong yet.”